Page:Ten Tragedies of Seneca (1902).djvu/143

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
Lines 638—680]

MESS. There is on the highest fortress of the palace of Pelops a frontage, having a southern aspect, whose extreme side rises to a mountainous height, almost, and overlooks the city, and from its menacing appearance, not only holds the recalcitrant rabble in awe of their kings, but enables them also to deal more effectual blows upon revolters below! In this palace is a huge saloon capable of holding large crowds of people (who flock thither for various purposes), where noble porphyry columns support the gilded roof; behind these, and quite open to the public who may assemble there, the sumptuous palace is divided off into numerous departments, but there is another hall, the Sanctuary of the Palace which is visible only at the farthest end, a mysterious retreat, a time-honored grove in a deep valley, concealing it from the vulgar gaze, this is the royal sanctum, where no trees afford their cheerful umbrage, and where the pruning-knife finds no employment!—but the yew, the cypress, and the obscure foliage, rendered more so by the sombre ilex, wave listlessly at the undulations of the circumambient air, upon all of which a lofty oak looks down from on high, and rules the grove with its majestic imposingness. Here the descendants of Tantalus repair to consult about their respective destinies—here to invoke aid, when their affairs are in doubt or danger—Numerous spoils hang about, sonorous trumpets, broken chariots, spoils and amongst them (an especial curio) the relics of that one fished out from the sea of Myrtilus, and the disabled wheels are suspended from their treacherous axles—in fact, traces of every phase of human wickedness. In one place, is seen the Phrygian Tiara of Pelops himself; in another, the accumulated rapine taken from sundry conquered enemies—an embroidered cloak represented some triumph or other over some barbarian foe! A lugubrious fountain is observed under the shadow of this wood, and the water remains steeped in a black marsh, just such a marsh in appearance, as the terror-striking Styx, which renders inviolable the oaths sworn to by the Gods. It is reported here, that the funereal deities set up their groans in the dead of the obscure night, and the entire grove becomes convulsed with the clanking of chains, and when the Manes commence their howlings! Whatever it is it is terrifying to hear, but when it is brought into actual view, a crowd of aged spectres emerging from their ancient tombs begin to wander about, and monsters of greater magnitude than any conception could picture, leap about with mocking laughter! But suddenly, the entire wood seems to burst into flames, and the lofty trees look as if ignited, but none